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Explaining Secured and Unsecured Debt

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A secured debt is a debt that is secured by some form of collateral: a car, house or other piece of personal property. An unsecured debt is a debt for which there is no collateral: no physical property for the lender to repossess in the event of non-payment. Common forms of unsecured debt include credit card debt and medical bills.

When filing for bankruptcy, your secured debts may be handled differently than your unsecured debts. If you have a secured debt and you wish to keep the property that is attached as collateral, you will typically have to keep paying that creditor. For example, if you want to keep your car and you have an outstanding loan on it, you will most likely have to keep paying the loan in order to keep the car.

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The Bankruptcy Means Test: Are You Eligible for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

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In order to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must meet the eligibility requirements. Eligibility is determined by the administration of a "means test."

The "means test" compares your family size and income over the last six months to the median income of a similarly sized family in your state. If you earn less than the median income, you are generally eligible to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, if you earn more than the median income and you have a certain amount of disposable income per month with which to pay your debts, you cannot file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
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Bankruptcy and Wage Garnishments in Ohio

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When you file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, an "automatic stay" immediately goes into effect that requires your creditors to cease all collection activities until your bankruptcy case has been decided. This automatic stay applies to wage garnishments as well as harassing telephone calls, utility disconnections, repossessions and foreclosures.

The automatic stay is only temporary and does not apply to all types of debt. It is meant to give you the time and breathing room necessary to get your finances together during your bankruptcy proceeding. If the debt is later discharged through bankruptcy, the wage garnishment will be permanently terminated, as you will no longer be liable for that debt.

Wage garnishments that are in place for support payments (i.e. child support), are typically exempt from the "automatic stay" provision, as they cannot be discharged under bankruptcy law.

For more information, contact Ohio bankruptcy attorney Kathleen Mezher now.

 

Car Accidents, Vehicle Defects and Product Liability Claims in Ohio

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Drivers are not the only causes of automotive accidents. Many vehicle accidents in Ohio are caused by vehicle defects, including faulty seat belts, brakes and other mechanical parts. If an accident is caused in full or in part by a vehicle defect, the automobile manufacturer may be liable under product liability laws for any injuries caused by the accident.

  • Common vehicle defects include:
  • Defective Airbags;
  • Defective Seatbelts;
  • Defective Tires;
  • Improper or Defective Child Restraint Systems;
  • Insufficient Structural Integrity; and
  • Top-Heavy Design with High Probability of Rollover.

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What Is A Reaffirmation Agreement?

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A reaffirmation agreement is a renewed agreement between a debtor and a creditor. When you file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, you are obtaining a discharge of your debt by liquidating your non-exempt assets and using the money to pay off your creditors. A reaffirmation agreement can be used to ensure you are allowed to keep a particular asset by reaffirming the debt and your personal liability to pay the debt according to the terms of your contract.
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What is Probate?

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When a loved one dies, there are often many things that must be taken care of, including probating the estate. Probate is the legal process of distributing a deceased person’s assets to his/her heirs. It occurs whether the person dies with or without a will.

If your loved one had a will, its validity will be determined during probate. Additionally, your loved one’s property will be identified, inventoried and valued. The estate’s debts and taxes will be paid during this time and any money due to the estate will be collected. Finally, the estate’s property will be distributed according to the validated will or, if there is no will, according to state law.

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How Does Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Really Work?

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A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a structured repayment plan. It is often a good choice for those with a steady income stream, because it is designed to help you pay off your debts over a three to five year period without losing your house or your possessions.

If you file for Chapter 13 and your plan is accepted, you will make payments to a trustee who will distribute those payments to your creditors. Any collection efforts will be “automatically stayed” and your creditors will not be allowed to contact you directly during this time.

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Slip and Fall Injuries Inside Your Apartment or Rented Home

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When you rent a residence, whether it is an apartment or a house, your landlord has a legal duty to keep the premises safe and habitable. If that duty is violated and you are subsequently injured on the property, you may have a legal claim against the landlord.

People often become injured due to loose handrails, rotted steps or porches, or falling ceilings. If you notice something dangerous or potentially dangerous, you need to notify your landlord of the situation. Documentation is important: send the notice through certified mail or use another method that provides proof that you notified the landlord of the problem.

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What is Informed Consent?

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Except for in certain extreme circumstances, when a medical provider cares for or treats you, that provider is required to obtain your “informed consent” for the treatment/care. This means that you were given all of the information about the risks associated with the procedure/treatment that a careful provider would normally give to a patient. It also means that you made an informed decision about the treatment based on an understanding of the information provided.

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Dram Shop Liability: Bar Owners and Drunk-Driving Accidents

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Drunk drivers are not the only parties responsible for the injuries and deaths caused by drunk driving accidents.

In Ohio, the owner of a restaurant, bar or other commercial establishment where alcohol is served may be held liable for the injuries and deaths caused by a drunk driver if: 1) the driver was served alcohol at the establishment and the driver continued to be served after he/she was noticeably intoxicated or 2) the drunk driver was a minor and was served alcohol at the establishment.

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